A man convicted of killing a 75-year-old woman with a claw hammer in 2001 could be executed this summer 22 years after being put on Alabama’s death row.

James Edward Barber was sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of Dorothy Epps. The state has now set a 30-hour time frame for his death to take place. It will begin at midnight on July 20 and expire on July 21 at 6 a.m.

After an internal review of the execution process in Alabama, new rules were established, such as changing the death warrant authorizing the state to carry out an execution in a single day. This will give the state more time to carry out a death sentence.

Barber’s execution is the first one planned since the changes.

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) also added more medical professionals and new equipment and has undergone execution rehearsals.

Meanwhile, Barber will continue to be in close custody at Holman Prison. Close custody is the most restrictive custody level in the state. He is in a single cell and can only come out if restrained.

The crime he committed was described as unusually gruesome at the time. Epps was at her home in Harvest when Barber, who knew her through her daughter and had done handy work for her, came into her home, punched her in the face, then attacked her with a claw hammer. An autopsy showed although Epps weighed only 100 pounds, she fought for her life.

Along with defensive wounds, the medical examiner discovered 19 lacerations in her head and seven fractures in her skull. She also had bruises, cuts and fractures all over her body, including rib fractures and claw hammer injuries to her abdominal and lower chest.

After he killed Epps, Barber fled the scene with her purse.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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